Belfast Telegraph

Natasha McShane attack: 90 years in a US prison for baseball bat thug who battered Armagh student

By John Breslin

A man who brutally attacked a young Armagh student and her friend on a street in Chicago has been sentenced to 90 years in prison.

Heriberto Viramontes, who was convicted of the April 2010 attempted murder of Natasha McShane and Stacy Jurich, must serve 85% of the sentence because of the particularly terrible nature of the crime.

Former star student Natasha has been left severely brain-damaged and disabled and requires full-time care.

The sentence effectively means life in prison for her 35-year-old attacker.

Judge Jorge Alonso said the sentence was based on the "brutality and cold-blooded heartlessness displayed on the night". Viramontes received 25 years for each of the attempted murders of McShane and Jurich and further 20-year sentences for aggravated armed robbery, all to be served consecutively.

Ahead of the sentencing, Natasha's mother Sheila took the stand to deliver a victim impact statement, described the continuing pain, anguish and emotional turmoil the once highly gifted student and her family are going through.

All because of the "brutal display of humanity" that night in 2010 when a random act changed lives forever.

"If it was not (Natasha) then it would have been somebody else. That's the sad part," Mrs McShane said.

"We want justice whatever the outcome... Natasha will have a life sentence of her own to serve, a life sentence of pain and misery and unfulfilment."

The attack happened early in the morning of April 23, 2010, as the young women returned home from a night out in the Bucktown neighbourhood.

McShane, then 23, a UCD graduate on an education exchange programme at the University of Illinois, was celebrating after securing an internship allowing her to remain in a city she had come to love.

But as the two young women walked to Jurich's apartment, passing beneath an underpass, Viramontes came from behind, striking each woman once across the back of the head with a baseball bat, then stealing their purses.

Natasha was hit with such force she fell hard on the ground, unconscious.

Jurich remained conscious as police and other emergency services arrived, then blacked out. As the two women were rushed to hospital, Viramontes and his accomplice Marcy Cruz tried to use Jurich's credit card at two filling stations but were caught on CCTV.

Cruz was jailed for 22 years.

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